Monday March 27, 2017   Last updated 00:09AM
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Unique model for Whanganui settlement

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A sense of relief as Whanganui River claims its on its final stretch.

Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill passed its first reading in parliament yesterday and should be law by the end of the year.

It recognises the river as an indivisible whole from the mountains to the sea with its own legal identity and all the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.

There is also an $80 million redress package.

Negotiator Gerrard Albert says attempts more than a decade ago to negotiate a settlement with the then Labour government were bruising and inconclusive, and led the iwi to develop an alternate approach that set aside alien concepts of ownership.

"This river is not the river that has been contended by the crown, that exists in compartments, its bed and its waters. It's an indivisible whole that includes iwi so this concept of legal personhood is the nearest legal approximation to the way in which we relate to our people as being inextricably entwined to it and can never be alienated from it," he says.

Mr Albert says the new legal personhood means the iwi doesn't need anyone to confirm its right to represent the river.

FULL INTERVIEW: GERRARD ALBERT

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